Curriculum Overview

Over the course of the year, we explore many different concepts and ideas. Ours is an integrated curriculum that infuses the Reading and Writing curriculum with the content ideas from our Science and Social Studies. In addition, what the students use for content as they learn different computer programs  and such in their Technology class is closely connected to our Social Studies curriculum. Read on to find out in more detail what the 5th grade curriculum has in store the students. For a copy of our schedule click here.


Books, books, and more books! Our work this year will include student-selected books, as well as small group and whole class novels. To help create excitement about books and reading, there will be small group discussions reviewing books students have read. There is a focus on historical fiction and non-fiction readying supporting our Science and Social Studies curriculum. A few of the Novels we will be reading include Children of the Longhouse, Chains, and one of three books written by Carl Haaisen. A well-stocked book corner, literature circles, and lots of sharing will make for a love of reading that will last a lifetime!


This year, the students will be introduced to an online vocabulary program called Word Voyage. This program provides vocabulary and grammar instruction that is directly tied to our curriculum. After an introductory unit based on a very short reading, the students will be delving into units that are built around the books we are reading in class. The first of these books will be Children of the Longhouse. While we are doing our novel study in class, the students will be working through the lessons that use vocabulary taken from the book. Component of the lessons include, but are not limited to:

  • Latin and Greek Roots: Most multi-syllabic English words have Latin or Greek roots. The students actively engage with roots to learn how modern definitions are formed. 
  • Grammar and Sentence Construction: After completing the lesson exercises, the student must use each word in an original sentence. The teacher can assign specific grammar skills to be practiced at the same time. Instructional grammar videos are provided.. The teacher can review the student’s sentences and return inadequate work, with feedback for revision. Some sample assignments:
  • Spelling, Syllables, Parts of Speech, Etymology: Word Voyage students can investigate words many different ways!
  • Differentiated Instruction:  Level-appropriate units by student or group are easily created as needed.
  • Domain specific vocabulary: Vocabulary taken directly from our Social Studies, Science, Math programs, etc. can be used to create Units of Study.

Students will be learning skills and strategies that will help them unlock word means for the rest of their lives.


It is difficult to separate reading and writing because the two are so intertwined. As we listen to good literature, we are inspired to write. When we learn to use more exciting language, our writing improves. Students write each day. Lessons taught during Language Block will focus on motivation and use the Six Traits Plus One model for writing (ideas and content, organization, sentence fluency, word choice, voice, conventions plus presentation). Periodically we will publish a piece, sometimes in book form! Using the Writing Process, students learn to complete a graphic organizer, draft, revise, edit, and finally publish their work. We will write narratives, poems, reports, essays, persuasive paragraphs, letters, etc., during the year. While creative writing occurs in a variety of ways, we emphasize non-fiction writing. As with reading, much of the content we cover in writing is related to our social studies and science curriculums. Throughout the year, the students write a variety of pieces having to do with the state they each one has selected to become an expert about. At the end of the year, all of these pieces are compiled into individual “state textbooks.”  In addition, students learn to write reflective/summary pieces in Science.


You need not be Roman Catholic to take something away from our Religion program. This year, the students will continue their faith journey, learning about Jesus and the Church using a  liturgically-based program called Ventures Weekly. It is a series of  32 weekly lessons based on the Sunday Gospels.  In Jesus’s time, most people didn’t read. They learned by hearing stories and passing them on. Each week, the message of the Gospel reading will be the focus as we try to make sense of what these stories mean for us as God’s people today.

In addition, there is a catechism handbook – What the Church Believes and Teaches- which introduces us to some of the rituals and traditions of the Catholic Church, the liturgical year, and Sunday Mass. It is much like learning about any cultural group. The more we know about different groups of people, the more we are able to appreciate what unites us as well as celebrate our differences.


We use enVision 2.0 as our Math text. For a complete description of our 5th grade program, see a separate document titled enVision 2.0 under the the 5th Grade Tab on the menu bar of the webpage.


As a 5th grader, Science is the exploration of the Scientific Process and reinforcement of an inquiry approach to learning. This year the students will tackle 3 different units of study. The first is called Earth and Sun.  It provides students with experiences to explore the  properties of the atmosphere, energy transfer from Sun to Earth, and the dynamics of weather and water cycling in Earth’s atmosphere. Other experiences help student to develop and use models to understand Earth’s place in the solar system and the interactions of the Earth, Sun, and Moon particularly predictable patterns; daily length and direction of shadows, day and night, and the seasonal appearance of stars in the night sky.

Next, in preparation for our science camp experience, the students participate in a simulation called “Environmental Detective.” With the help of this unit, they become aware of the inter-connectedness of the natural world and environmental problems. They learn first hand how one small change can trigger a whole chain of events.

Our final unit is the module Mixtures and Solutions. This module has 5 investigations that introduce the students to fundamental ideas about matter and its interactions. Students come to know that  matter is made up of particles to small to be seen and develop the understanding  that matter remains even when changing states such as from a solid to a liquid or when it dissolves into another substance. Students learn the difference between a mixture and a solution and how new substances are formed. They also engage in engineering experience with the separation of materials.

Resources: NGSS Foss Kits, Mixtures and Solutions and Earth and Sun; Environmental Detective Simulation


Our focus for the year is the  history and geography of the United States. Using our textbook as well as magazines, articles, reference materials, etc. students explore units on Native Americans of North and South America, European Explorers, Colonial America, and the Revolutionary War. Our study culminates in a simulation called Patriots which will make the birth of our country come alive. Students will gain knowledge of the underlying causes of the war, major battles, and people who played critical roles at this time. They will learn the hardship of war, the difficult decisions facing people in the turbulent times of revolution, and the lasting influences of these times on our current government today.  

In geography, students explore the geography and people found in 5 distinct regions of our country.  They learn that each of these regions, while being similar is some ways, each have unique features that distinguish them from other parts of the country. In addition, the students will be learning the location of and capital of all 50 states, learning them first by region and them putting them all together.  By the end of the year, the students will be able to correctly identify the location and capital of all 50 states.  Finally, each student  chooses a state to research and study throughout the year.  As a class we will complete a variety of activities and ultimately create individual state textbooks. The culminating project for the year will be to construct a State Box which will then be used to give an oral presentation of what was learned throughout the year. We will celebrate our yearlong study with parents on Americana Day in the Spring.

Textbook: A Young Nation: Adventures in Time and Place; Patriots interactive simulation by INTERACT; See the USA simulation by INTERACT


Fifth Grade students begin to receive formalized instruction in specific organizational and study skills. These include, but are not limited to, time management strategies, methods for organizing work, study and test taking strategies, and how to effectively read informational text. Strategies and methods introduced in Fifth Grade are reinforced and expanded upon as students enter the Middle School.


Fifth Grade students also participate in a varied schedule and see specialists in the following areas:

Art: 60 minutes — once a week
Music: 30 minutes — twice a week
Spanish/French: 45 minutes — twice a week (each language is taught for 1/2 a year)
PE: 30 minutes — twice a week
Library: 45 minutes — once a week
Technology: 75 minutes — Twice a week (45 minutes session and a 30 minute session


The purpose of the Music program is to expose students to a wide range of musical experiences in order that they may develop the foundation for a lifetime of music appreciation, a working knowledge of music in performance, and theory skills to aid in the understanding of musical structure. Students are graded on performance, effort, and attitude. Each class culminates in several performance-projects demonstrating skills learned through the study of music theory, music history, performance, acting, and singing.


Lower School students come to Villa’s iMac computer lab to build their digital literacy skills and experiment with a wide range of technologies. Keyborading is an integral part of the curriculum. All students are expected to reach a specific mastery level by 5th grade. In addition, assigned projects undertaken in this class integrate with the students’ classroom curriculum throughout the school year. Over the course of the year, Fourth and Fifth Grade students utilize every program in the computer lab; from KidPix to Google Slides, Excel to iMovie, iDVD and iWeb, Google Docs to the Internet, coding to robotics. Many times students choose the application that best suits the assignment. At this point in their “computer careers” their knowledge of the varied programs in the computer lab is vast. In 5th grade, the work done in technology class is integrated into our geography curriculum.


Students continue on the track they began in Kindergarten.


Fifth grade students are introduced to more complex activities such as Frisbee games, volleyball, soccer, basketball, floor hockey, and softball. Students participate in these activities in a slightly more competitive environment. We continue to focus on lifelong fitness, sportsmanship, self-improvement, individual growth, and teamwork. Students are evaluated primarily on effort and attitude.


The art curriculum is concept-based with concepts introduced, then used at each grade level with increasing complexity. Art history and cultural arts are integrated throughout the lessons. Art goals often overlap with classroom goals, so there will be some collaborative, integrated projects throughout the year. Some concepts covered may include line and color families, focal point, pattern/rhythm, balance, and simple perspective.


The goal of our program is to develop students who value learning and have the skills, strategies, and processes to be independent users of information. The library curriculum provides learning opportunities for students to develop skills in information literacy, literature appreciation, and responsible library behaviors.

Information Literacy and the Research Process
Formulate central and sub questions for study
Use research strategies
Locate and use multiple, relevant and reliable resources
Interpret and evaluate information
Analyze text for similarities and differences
Synthesize and organize information
Take notes paraphrasing and summarizing information
Apply new meanings demonstrating an understanding of information
Match product to the establish criteria

Literature Appreciation and Reading for Meaning
Read, respond to and evaluate “Best Book” Nominees.
Read and respond to a variety of literary genres
Read and respond to a variety of stories representing different views, cultures, perspectives, and issues

Library Responsibilities
Understand organization, purpose and location of library resources
Use web sites and online databases
Select books based on readability, relevance, and/or recommendation
Understand the fair use of resource and information